Presidential Candidates Raising Big Cash; Fewer Visits to Alabama Expected

McCain and Romney both made stops in Montgomery.
McCain and Romney both made stops in Montgomery.

The presidential election may be more than a year away, but the race to raise money has begun.

Most of the candidates have announced their fundraising totals for the first quarter of 2007. And the numbers are staggering.

Democrat John Edwards has raised around $14 million, but Hillary Clinton has the biggest purse at $26 million.

Clinton's chief rival, Barak Obama, has yet to make his announcement, but according to campaign insiders, his total may be the largest.

That comes as a shock to Auburn Montgomery political scientist Dr. Tom Vocino.

"Senator Clinton has access to big money donors because of her husband's connections," Vocino said. "For Senator Obama to be this close or exceed Senator Clinton's numbers is a large surprise."

The fundraising totals are larger this year because the presidential primaries are earlier, forcing the candidates to get an earlier start.

Another surprise came on the republican side from Mitt Romney. He may be third in the polls, but he's first in fundraising with $23 million.

Rudolph Giuliani is second with $15 million, followed John McCain with $12 million.

Giuliani is hoping to raise some more cash at a fundraiser later this month in Alabama. Former President Bill Clinton will also speak in the state this month, providing his wife with a boost.

Hillary Clinton herself has already visited Alabama, standing side by side with Obama in Selma. McCain and Romney also have made stops in the state.

The visits are presumably the result of the legislature's decision to move up Alabama's presidential primary. It's now one of the first in the nation.

But ultimately, Vocino says Alabama may not get the national exposure it was hoping for.

"So many states are moving their primaries to an early date," he said. "This hope for a national impact that we wanted is probably not going to materialize."

Eight other states have already moved their primaries to the same date as Alabama's -- February fifth. And 14 more states are considering the same move.

For that reason, Vocino says he doesn't expect to see many more candidate visits to the state as the campaign progresses.

Reporter: Mark Bullock